Veterans’ health fundraiser draws protestors over sponsor

Protesters from Veterans For Peace gathered on Saturday.
Protesters from Veterans For Peace gathered on Saturday. Photo by Joseph Pauletto.

By Joseph Pauletto
Boston University News Service

BOSTON – Ten protesters from Veterans For Peace turned out over the weekend for a demonstration against a 5K race, hosted by a Massachusetts-based weapons manufacturer.

The “Run to Home Base” 5K run took place earlier Saturday morning, and was meant to
raise funds to support veteran health across the country. The Boston Red Sox hosted the race in
partnership with Raytheon Technologies, a weapons manufacturer based in Waltham,

Funds from the race were intended to address the increase in veteran suicides over the last decade. Yearly veteran suicides have increased from 5,989 in 2001 to 6,261 in 2019, peaking at nearly 7,000 in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Brian Garvey, who works at the grassroots organization Massachusetts Peace Action and
was one of the head organizers of the protest, said the plan for Veterans For Peace was to “hold
signs highlighting the profits that Raytheon has made from the same wars that have caused so
much harm to the health of veterans.”

Raytheon yielded over $77 million in 2020, an approximate 15.9% increase from 2019,
Fortune reported last year. Their overall profits have been trending upward since 2015 thanks to
their production of the Patriot missile system, used by nations throughout Europe and
the Middle East in addition to the United States.

Raytheon has frequently held events and fundraisers to increase their community
outreach, specifically supporting veterans, disabled people and environmental initiatives.
Garvey said he finds these efforts disingenuous.

“We feel that Raytheon being the presenting sponsor at a major fundraiser presents us
with some conflicts of interest,” Garvey said. “There is hypocrisy when you try to present
yourself publicly as someone who really cares about veterans’ healthcare, yet you’ve profited
to the tune of billions of dollars off of wars that greatly endangered veterans health.”

The eastern Massachusetts chapter of Veterans For Peace, also known as the Smedley D.
Butler Brigade, is a member of the Raytheon Anti-War Coalition, which consists of other local
activist groups like Massachusetts Peace Action. The group of protesters included veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam, local activists and students, all sharing the same contention that
Raytheon’s sponsorship of a veteran fundraiser is overtly hypocritical.

Paul Shannon, who has been a member of Veterans For Peace since the Vietnam War,
said the biggest threat to veteran health from Raytheon is their political influence, as current
secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, has been a member of the Raytheon Board of directors
since 2016.

“What does it say when you have an industry that can only survive if there is either war
or the threat of war constantly,” Shannon said. “Whenever a new president comes in like Biden,
who does he talk to about foreign policy? Two of the thirteen people are from Raytheon.”

Activist Liz Walters said she believes the Red Sox, which has a large cultural impact on
the city of Boston, partnering with Raytheon sends the wrong message.

“I really don’t want Raytheon to become a symbol of Massachusetts or this local
Massachusetts company that people come to trust,” Walters said.

The Red Sox established the Home Base Program alongside Massachusetts General
Hospital in 2007, and have hosted the annual 5K race since 2009. Over the last decade,
Raytheon grew to be the primary sponsor for the event, and many employees typically
participate in the race.

“Our short term goal is to make people think twice,” Garvey said. “Raytheon has spent
a lot of money to bolster its image, and we want people to consider the other side of the coin.
We have an opportunity to be more peaceful and to take some of that money from the Pentagon
and invest right here in much needed infrastructure.”

Shannon said that public awareness of Raytheon’s military work is the most important
immediate goal for Veterans For Peace.

“We need to associate a key member of the military industrial complex with threats of
war so people don’t think they are so far away,” Shannon said. “Raytheon is right here in

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